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GMC gets wake-up call as fourth guilty verdict overturned

The Privy Council has overturned a verdict of serious professional misconduct against a GP and criticised the GMC for failing to take account of the fact he was grappling with staff shortages and deprivation.

The decision is the fourth time in five months the council has reversed a GMC ruling.

GP members of the GMC blamed the introduction of panels with a lay majority for the spate of 'wrong decisions'.

In the latest case, the Privy Council threw out a finding of serious professional misconduct against north London GP Dr Michael Silver, who was found guilty after failing to visit an elderly patient at home on several occasions.

The council said there was 'little doubt' Dr Silver had been negligent but the professional conduct committee should have considered the fact he worked in a deprived area where it was difficult to get staff. It added: 'This was an isolated incident relating to one patient [after] 40 years of unblemished conduct.'

GMC member Dr Krishna Korlipara, a GP in Bolton, said he was 'disturbed' by the increasing frequency of successful appeals.

'This started as a one-off,' he added. 'It's slowly becoming a trickle. Could it become a stream or will the GMC wake up to the fact there are too many inconsistencies?'

He said doctors should not have to rely on appeals to get justice. 'They should get that through a panel properly constituted to reflect a doctor's experience,' he said.

Fellow GMC member Dr Surendra Kumar, a GP in Widnes, Cheshire, said inexperienced associate GMC members were sitting on conduct panels 'far too frequently'.

A GMC spokeswoman said the six-person panel in Dr Silver's case included four medical professionals but five panel members were associate rather than full GMC members.

Lay majorities on professional conduct panels have been allowed since last year in a bid to bolster public confidence in the GMC.

Dr Stephanie Bown, head of medical services at the

Medical Protection Society, said: 'It's a wake-up call for the GMC.'

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